- Drugs feel awesome. Literally, scientifically awesome. However, too much of a good thing can turn bad, for a range of legal and physiological reasons.
- Getting your weekends and weekdays back isn't a matter of going cold turkey, but asking hard questions and being smart about usage, if you're gonna anyway.
- Some drugs are quite literal recipes for disaster. Make sure you don't mix and match certain drugs; as you could cause serious harm.
👨👦👦 Saturdays (and Sundays) are for the boys
There is a glorified attitude in Australia, especially in corporate culture, about this work hard/play hard attitude. It's socially acceptable to:
- Work all week
- Blow yo-self up on the weekend
- Feel like shit Monday / Tuesday
- Come good Wednesday
That’s all well and good: blow off steam (lord knows we we all need to occasionally).
Problem is, it can be hard for some people to know when their ‘loose unit’ reputation is truly legendary, or actually getting a bit sad. When you go from feeling a ‘bit shit’ to a ‘bit shit all the time’.
😄 A story about serotonin
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, think of it like a really reliable courier who transports messages throughout the body, or from one nerve cell to another.
We have stores of it which allow our nerve endings to communicate. The more serotonin lying around in the space between nerves (synapses), the better/easier information (impulses) can move from nerve ending to nerve ending.
Ok, great. So what?
Mood: In the brain, serotonin impacts levels of mood, anxiety, and happiness. Mood-altering drugs such as ecstasy and LSD cause a significant rise in serotonin levels (awesome!), followed by a huge reduction (oh).
What goes up, must come down
After you have shot rainbows from your chest for six hours, you may experience what is known as a 'comedown'.
You got no serotonin left and what you are experiencing is “withdrawal symptoms”. Low levels of serotonin have been linked with:
- poor memory
- low mood
They may also lead to the following symptoms:
- craving for sweet or starchy foods
- difficulty sleeping
- low self-esteem
🛏️ How to get to sleep after a bender without dying
We aren’t here to judge, we are here to understand and help. If you are going to do something illegal, let’s just increase the chances of not dying.
The issue with most party drugs and sleeping aids is 'respiratory depression'. i.e, you’ve taken something that increases your heart rate, now you’ve taken something that causes sedation.
The upper and downer mask one another, meaning you will take more to feel like you are getting the same effect. But you are still taking more, again, dramatically increasing the risk of OD.
Overdose is a possible consequence of misusing both cocaine and benzodiazepine drugs, and when the two are combined, the risk for a potential life-threatening overdose is multiplied.
Take away: nothing that sedates.
Instead: Try chamomile tea, or Valerian root, L-theanine and magesium glycinate. Melatonin is also good but is only available in effective doses in Australia as a prescription medication. Homeopathic doses of melatonin (available at the pharmacy) isn’t the same thing. More on that below.
These might not give you that ‘knock out’ you’re looking for but at least you’ll have a better chance of waking up again.
🌞 How to get your Sunday-Tuesday back
The name of the game is recovery first the get back on track ASAP. That means:
Hydrate - Water isn’t good enough. You need juice (orange for the Vitamin C, necessary for the synthesis of serotonin), isotonic drinks (like Powerade or Gatorade) and hypotonic supplements like Gastrolyte or Hydrolite.
Rinse nose with saline - prevent further damage and ease the symptoms of insufflation (medical term for snorting; who says we aren’t learning!)
Magnesium Glycinate - this is to stop muscle cramping (specifically the jaw ehem), and calm the mind. Also a good option to take before the night as a prevention. The ‘glycinate’ is the important part, other forms of magnesium are cheap, harsher on the stomach and less bio-available. Learn more about it here.
Good food - High nutrients. Especially stuff that contains the amino acid tryptophan, which coverts to niacin, a building block of serotonin. List of foods can be found here. Don't indulge in greasy, binge food, as tempting as it may be. It’s really not worth it and it will slow your recovery and leave you feeling even worse.
Good Sleep - Melatonin is safer and less addictive than than benzodiazepines. They are both prescription medication. If you are struggling with sleep in general, speak to a doctor on Pilot.
Side rant about Homeopathic melatonin (which can be bought at a pharmacy without a prescription) is such a tiny dose that the TGA doesn’t even consider it the actual active ingredient. 6X, a common dilution factor, means the dilution factor is 10−6 …which is 1 millionth dilution.
What this means is that “this would require giving two billion doses per second to six billion people for 4 billion years to deliver a single molecule of the original material to any patient.” Read more about the uselessness of homeopathic treatments here.
Okay, rant over. Back to it.
Exercise - Not the next day. Your body is in recovery. You have our permission to be a sack of shit. You should though make an effort to get outside to get some sunlight so your circadian rhythm can start getting back to normal. If you want to do something light, that’s OK, but save the I-hate-myself-session for Monday morning. Make sure you get up early and bang it out.
Benefits of exercise:
- Reduces stress and anxiety - source
- Increases brain sensitivity for the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine - sauce
- Increase the production of endorphins, which produce positive feelings and reduce the perception of pain - saucy
- Boost energy levels, also get you on track to an adonis - sauciest
💊 If you’re gonna do it, do it right
Self medication hypothesis
The SMH says that addiction or substance use disorder is hypothesised to function as a compensatory means to modulate effects and treat distressful psychological states, whereby individuals choose the drug that will most appropriately manage their specific type of psychiatric distress and help them achieve emotional stability.
In English, this means we abuse the drugs we think are going to solve our specific emotional problem. We drink to forget, take MDMA to feel high, etc.
Make it special, reduce frequency
The point is here that if you are wanting to be have a big one, plan it out and make it worth it. If you reduce drug frequency and limit it to better organised events you will have a better time than if you are trying to make the night using drugs as the starting point. Long term drug use is really bad for you, which you know, so do yourself a favour and cut out the ‘nothing nights’.
There's more on this in our alcohol and drinking guide.
Buy less. Or at least, buy when you are sober.
Trying to make the decision whether to buy more at 3am when you're high is a bad idea. Why?
You aren’t thinking straight and the answer will almost always be yes. This is bad for a number of reasons:
- You will end up ‘shouting people’. It’s an expensive habit.
- You will delay the chance of sleep by a lot.
- You will either waste the best hours of the party with the 'admin' or push the night artificially out.
- Your come down will be brutally worse.
- Dopamine releasing drugs have a 'diminishing fun return profile'.
The 'diminishing fun return profile'
This one is fun to explain, and we'll use maths and economics to explain it.
If you have more you'll end up needing more. You'll be chasing a high that is getting farther and farther away.
Cocaine releases dopamine. Let’s say the first line is a +10, the second might be +3 and subsequent lines are +1. Then +0.1.
Stop being a hero and chasing the high, know that subsequent hits of anything will have diminishing returns.
Do NOT do it alone
Doing drugs without other people greatly increases the chance of death by overdose. This assumes your mate isn’t a useless sausage and will act in the event you start seizing.
👨🍳 What to mix (and what not to)
You might forget to keep breathing and like, die.
If you are curious about a specific drug, see here.
Alcohol + Benzodiazepines
Alcohol and benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Valium, combine to cause a synergistic effect that can make you pass out and stop breathing. A synergistic effect is when two substances are more powerful when combined than the sum of their individual effects.
Side effects of mixing alcohol with Xanax include drowsiness, dizziness, memory loss, loss of consciousness and death.
Alcohol + Opioids
Alcohol and opioids, such as oxycodone, endone, hydrocodone, can combine to reduce respiration to the point that a person stops breathing.
The illicit opioid heroin causes similar effects when combined with alcohol.
Extended/slow-release opioids can release their entire dose all at once when mixed with alcohol, a phenomenon called dose dumping, according to a 2014 article published in Postgraduate Medicine. This increases the risk of overdose.
In case you just said to yourself, "yeah but it won’t happen to me…."
Opioids remain the main cause of accidental overdose death in Australia, up 300% since 2000.
A sythentic opioid you might have heard of, named fentynl is wrecking so much havoc in the US in terms of O.D:
The recent increases in drug overdose deaths have been so steep that they have contributed to reductions in the country’s life expectancy over the last three years, a pattern unprecedented since World War II. Life expectancy at birth has fallen by nearly four months, and drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for adults under 55.
Cocaine + Alcohol
Look, we understand that this might be considered ridiculous but none the less we endeavour to educate.
Mixing alcohol and cocaine increases heart rate which causes stress on the heart. Ok you probably could have guessed that…
When alcohol and cocaine are combined, a toxic byproduct called cocaethylene is formed, according to a medical review published in the journal Addiction.
Cocaethylene can cause significant damage to the heart and liver.
🎱 If it's getting a bit out of hand
At the moment, only one-in-four people that need treatment for drug dependence are receiving it in Australia.
Drugs have been around for a long time. For many of us, it’s not unusual to want to try all of life’s offerings. We aren’t here to judge.
But, if you’re normal night-er is an all-night-er, and regular Sunday morning faces include Benny Cousins, followed by a pissed off girlfriend, then it might be time to swallow a tough pill (with no psychoactive ingredients.)
- Tolerance - are your purchasing larger amounts than you used to? Sounds like your tolerance is going up.
- Dependence - you’re shaking, irritable or can’t sleep after a day off. Or you get flu like symptoms. You don’t quite feel 'normal' sober.
- Abuse - you find it hard to not 'get on it' for an extended period of time, even when you don’t really enjoy it or its caused serious life problems. This isn’t to say you can’t not use for a period of time, it means that eventually drugs come back into your life and have a negative impact.
- Denial - the above are big scary words. First reaction is probably ‘this doesn’t apply to me’, but if you are regularly, or even occasionally, dabbling in the naughty stuff, well then it’s worth asking yourself a few questions, and having the maturity to accept it.
Here is what you should ask yourself:
1. Can you afford it?
2. Do you crave it?
3. Can you go out without it, can you have fun without it?
4. Are your moods a bit off?
5. Are you relationships a bit off?
6. Do you want your weekends back?
✈️ Next steps
Speak to a psychologist at LYSN
This can range from “I need help yesterday” to “interested in cutting back”.
2. Speak to your mates
If you’ve got a bestie, a GF or a legend of a Mum, now is the time to ask for help. It can be embarrassing to admit when we aren’t perfect, but ultimately it takes a lot of courage to admit it.
3. Other resources and phone numbers
- Get everything you need to know about every drug ever, here.
- Alcohol and Drug Foundation Tel. 1300 85 85 84
- DirectLine Tel. 1800 888 236 ‒ to speak to a confidential telephone counsellor about any drug issue
- DrugInfo Tel. 1300 85 85 84, Email [email protected] ‒ for information about drugs and drug prevention
- ReachOut NextStep ‒ an anonymous online tool that recommends relevant support options based on the help that you want